Tuesday, October 30, 2012

You’ve Got 100 Things To Do. Here’s 48 You Ought To Consider.

You’ve Got 100 Things To Do. Here’s 48 You Ought To Consider.

People run around with one hundred things to do. Here's 48 I think you ought to consider.

1.Write a note and mail it to someone. It’s a nice thing to do and it forces you to think about someone else. You get to practice your penmanship and help support the post office by using a stamp. Everyone benefits from this small act.

2. Smile. Regardless of your current condition there are a few things in life that still make you smile. Seek them out. Smile in the mirror. If nothing else, you’ll experience the joy of being smiled at by someone attractive.

3. Laugh. Laughter helps you. It works muscles that are hard to reach any other way. It also shows you’ve got a sense of humor. Find people or situations who give you such a belly laugh it hurts your sides. Bonus points if you pee a little.

4. Get in a good cry and get over it. Life is not always rosy and perfect. Even Martha Stewart spent time in jail. Bad things happen. Sometimes you hurt somebody, sometimes you’re hurt. When everything feels out of your control, grab a pint of beer or ice cream and drown your sorrows. Stop trying to be so strong. Sometimes things suck. Cry until you’re all out of tears and snot. Give yourself two hours, maybe a little more if you’re particularly aggrieved. Then get over it. Brush yourself off and get back in the game.

5. Learn something. If you think you know everything you’re probably an idiot. In the grand scheme of things, even with the Internet, you don’t know much. Develop your intellectual curiosity. It doesn’t have to be stressfully ambitious. Maybe it’s flipping a fried egg without breaking the yoke, or understanding someone else's point of view on some issue. It’s good to stretch yourself too, so consider learning how to play a musical instrument, or speak Urdu. There’s no shortage of things to learn.

6. Teach someone. Teaching helps you learn. It solidifies your thinking, and if you have a great student, challenges your thinking and makes you even better. To teach someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another human being.

7. Say thank you. Although it’s egotistically healthy to expect things in life, it’s polite to be appreciative when you get them. When you don’t say thank you because you’re too busy, too important or too careless, people think you’re an ass -- and they’re right.

8. Be okay being wrong. Some people relish being right. Full disclosure, one of my favorite sounds is when someone tells me, “You were right.” It has a very appealing musical quality to me. I prefer being right, but I’m okay being wrong. Being fallible is a human condition. Being wrong, and smart enough to admit it, not only teaches you something, beside humility, it also endears you to others. It takes bigger guts to admit your mistakes than to blame others.

9. Hug. Don’t be afraid of hugging. It’s a beautiful demonstration of affection, respect, warmth, caring and understanding; things the world can continue to use more of. Increase your contribution.

10. Drink more water. It’s good for you. It hydrates your brain, flushes toxins out of your system, and you’re not getting enough. Flavor it if you must, but get eight ounces for every hour you’re awake. Tomorrow you’ll feel better than you do today.

11. Reassert your values. Look where you’ve spent your time and money over the last three months to learn what you currently value. Are you happy about that? If not, start acting in better alignment to the things you say you value.

12. Make a plan. At night, or in the morning, every day, once a week or once a month, plan what you’re going to do. What do you want to have happen? What do you need to get done? Write it down and plan it out. A lousy plan surpasses no plan.

13. Do something off plan. Some people get a little too ridged with their planning and have no room left on their calendar. Be open to serendipity. Have some flexibility to go off script from time to time. Have superior focus and peripheral vision.

14. Go out of your way to help someone. Everyone could use a little boost from time to time. Everyone faces a struggle, no matter where they fall on the socio-economic scale. You have time, treasure or talent that someone else could benefit from. Help other people when they need it, not when it’s convenient for you.

15. Count your money. Always know how much you have. It’s empowering. Sometimes it can be shocking, (positively or negatively), but it’s always better to know, because the knowledge influences you to make better decisions.

16. Put 10% of your money aside. You’re not saving enough. Yes, it’s hard when times are tough and expense keep growing, but this habit helps you in the long run. Go extreme. Each night when you empty your pockets or set your wallet aside, count your money (see #15) and put 10% in a jar or an envelope and don’t touch it. The first few times it will feel unnatural. Soon, it will be fun and you’ll become as excited about saving money as you are about spending it.

17. Read something. If it’s not a habit yet, make it one. Read every day. To get started, it doesn’t matter what you read. Eventually, challenge yourself to read above your comfort zone, both in language and genre or perspective.

18. Learn a new word. An increase in vocabulary correlates to an increase in wealth. When you become aware of the meaning of words, you’re more apt to use them correctly and judiciously. It improves your decision making skills. When I was younger, my mother, sister and I randomly opened the dictionary, pointed to a word and used it for a week. I stupefied  my third grade teacher when I told her I was shy in school, but loquacious at home.

19. Clean up your mess. Somewhere around you is a mess. Instead of complaining about it, clean it up. Loose papers, a sink full of dishes, scattered laundry. Stop staring at it and getting yourself all worked up. Clean it up and be done.

20. Donate some clothes. You have too many. Something is out of style, doesn’t fit, or is ugly as sin. Give it away. Throw it in a bag and sneak off to one of those donation boxes or regift it to an appreciative friend or family member with great fanfare. It doesn’t matter how you do it, just get rid of it.

21. Trade habits. Save your time trying to break a bad habit. Instead, decide on something good you want to do, (pick any number on this list) or choose a “less-bad” habit to replace it with.

22. Break a sweat. Some hate to sweat and some love it. Do something that creates enough exertion to make you sweat. Don’t endanger your health, but move faster than you do now.

23. Save your will power for later. Studies suggest we each have a limited reserve of will power; some have more, some less. It’s used during the day and replenished with sleep. If you exhaust your will power during the day, you’ll be less likely to call upon it in the evening when you may wish you had better judgement. Two options; give in to your morning weakness so you don’t succumb to evening temptation, or plan your day ahead of time and determine where you will say yes and no, and stick to it.

24. Decide how much, and by when, for three important things. When you know how much, you’ve set a metric or success measure. When you know by when, you’ve set a deadline. Now you have three goals, instead of three wishes.

25. Marvel at something bigger than yourself. Justifiable arrogance or cockiness doesn’t bother me too much, but egomaniacal behavior is abhorrent. To guard against this, visit nature or contemplate something bigger than yourself. When I lived in Boston I liked to walk by the John Hancock building and look at my reflection in the glass. In one pane I felt sure of myself, but when I let my eyes gaze upward 60 stories, I couldn’t help but feel insignificant. I feel the same when I glance at the moon. For thousands of years humans have looked up at it in wonder. In my lifetime, people have been there and back. You gotta know where you fit, and then explore the boundaries.

26. Complete something. Find something incomplete and finish it. There’s a project you started, months, maybe years ago, still sitting there waiting for you. It could be a book you began writing, an engine you’re rebuilding in the garage, an afghan you’re crocheting, a piece of IKEA furniture you gave up on. Roll up your sleeves and get it done. Finish something and celebrate your success.

27. Walk. You’re not doing enough of this. Park farther away, take more stairs, walk around the block, or beach, or park. Move your body.

28. Oppose something. There is something you are vehemently against but you’ve been politely silent. It’s an opinion someone has been spouting off, or an important issue that’s not going the direction you want it to. Speak up, act and oppose it. Rock the boat if you have to. You have the right to be heard. Speak with your voice, your pen, or your feet.

29. Be for something. Being for something doesn’t always illicit the passion as being against something does, but it has the advantage of being action in the affirmative.

30. Fix something. A flickering light, a dripping faucet, a relationship with a loved one. Something in your surroundings is currently broken. Fix it, on your own or with the help of others. Now.

31. Create something. Make something you can point to and say, “I did that.” Decorate a room, make a killer presentation, write a poem, build a house. You decide the scope and scale, but get started and then complete it (see #26).

32. Hold someone’s hand. Two hands together feels powerful. It creates a connection and solidifies a bond. Be it intimate or casual, lifesaving or comforting, holding hands puts you in touch with humanity.

33. Prepare. Life happens. Are you ready for it? Opportunities, disasters, events on the calendar, and the unforeseeable alike; something is constantly happening. The better prepared you are to meet it head on, the more likely you’ll handle it successfully.

34. Ask. People enjoy being asked. They won’t always give you the answer you want, but asking at least gives them the option. Asking trumps telling in creating respect. Asking also greatly enhances your chances of getting what you want.

35. Organize. Something in your life is in disarray. It might be as simple as your sock drawer, or where you keep your bills. Maybe, your thinking is cluttered. Make the time to get things in order. You will feel better and productive.

36. Act on purpose. Do you know what you’re doing and why? Most people don’t bother to ask simple questions of themselves. You ought to, multiple times a day. Is what you’re doing moving you in the direction of your dreams or is it deferring them? Adjust your course.

37. Show gratitude. Not with a thank you (see #7) though that goes a long way. People think they are owed something. Typically the less grateful believe they are owed the most. Abandon the self-righteous attitude you sometimes carry with you. Shut up for a few minutes and be appreciative of all you have and all you have learned.

38. Treat yourself. There’s no need to go hog wild. You don’t need to throw a parade for tying your shoes, but reward yourself for accomplishing something of significance instead of shrugging it off as no biggie.

39. Treat someone else. When you notice other people and the good they are doing, it’s natural, and smart to show your appreciation. Find people doing good things and treat them with something they would like.

40. Put off procrastination. Procrastination is your biggest enemy, stop giving it so much of your time.

41. Know the difference between dichotomy and hypocrisy. Dichotomy is acknowledging some complex systems require two opposing forces to work properly, (you breathe in and out). Hypocrisy is claiming one thing but acting in opposition.

42. Watch School House Rocks. Please, get a basic understanding of the founding of the United States and how the government works. (as well as math and grammar). I’m personally tired of bloviating elected representatives who don’t know the basics. It’s not entirely their fault. We the people, put them there, probably because we were ignorant or fell prey to their tortured logic. Get a minimal primer and smarten up. This stuff’s important.

43. Know your preferences. Stop living with your default settings. Advocate for what you want. You won’t always get it, but at least try.

44. Vote. Every time there is an opportunity to voice your opinion and preferences, do it. It’s an incredible empowering feeling. If you have doubts as to how vital and important it is, look at how hard people work to get your vote, or baring that, try to subvert it. Trying to dissuade another from voting is a despicable and reprehensible act. Elections have consequences. Take your responsibility seriously. Learn what you must to make an informed decision and then make it. Make sure your vote is counted.

45. Apologize properly. We’ve all heard crappy apologies.  They included the words “if” and “but”. Those aren’t apologies, they are noisy and useless public relations exercises. A proper and sincere apology meaningfully fills in the blanks. “I’m sorry. I feel _____. I _____, and take responsibility for the harm that’s caused.  I acted in a way that’s not consistent with who I want to be. I’m going to make amends for the damage I’ve done by _____.”

46. Slow down and think. We are being inundated with information from a variety of sources. With all the outside stimuli we tend to react to uncertainty by hunkering down with what we think we already know instead of thoughtfully pursuing a rational alternative to the circumstances in front of us. Gather a variety of information from different sources. Look at things from a historical, political, social, economic and humanistic perspective rather than regurgitating someone else’s opinion.

47. Speed up and act. Colin Powell has said, once the probability of success of a decision is between 40% and 70%, make the decision. Acting with less than 40% is careless and if you wait until it’s greater than 70%, the opportunity will have probably already passed.

48. Know geography. Know where in the world you are. Know who’s around you. Know what the other side of the world looks like. Geography has a great influence and it matters. If you struggle to find where you are on a map, why would you expect people to want to follow you to where you say you want to go?